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Rule Understanding: Mathews’ Timed Out vs. Ganguly’s Exception

“Mathews made history as the inaugural batsman to experience a timed-out dismissal in international cricket, marking a significant development under the Laws in the 1980 code. Examining previous occurrences in first-class cricket and the peculiar case of Ganguly, who narrowly escaped a timed out due to VVS Laxman’s penchant for leisurely baths.

The MCC’s time-out law, specified under Law 40.1.1, dictates that upon the fall of a wicket or the retirement of a batter, the incoming batter must be prepared to receive the ball or for the other batter to be ready within 2 minutes of the dismissal or retirement unless Time has been called. Failure to meet this requirement results in a timed-out dismissal.

The timed-out method of dismissal was introduced to the Laws in the 1980 code and revised to 3 minutes in the 2000 code, yet the playing conditions in this World Cup allot only 2 minutes for the incoming batsman. Interestingly, the earliest printed Laws of cricket in 1775 stipulated that umpires should allow “Two Minutes for each Man to come in when one is out.” Let’s explore some noteworthy instances from first-class cricket.

The Genesis of Timed Out:

Who holds the distinction of being the first batsman to face a timed-out dismissal in first-class cricket?

Andrew Jordan of South Africa received a retrospective timed-out declaration nearly 15 years after the incident. In a domestic match in 1987, Jordan, representing Eastern Province, remained unbeaten overnight against Transvaal in Port Elizabeth. However, he couldn’t make it to the ground the following day due to waterlogged streets caused by heavy rainfall, resulting in a timed-out dismissal. This match had been organized by the South African board for non-white players during the apartheid era. In the early 2000s, it was recognized as a first-class game retroactively after the apartheid policy was abolished, and Jordan’s record was updated to ‘Timed-out.’

Before Jordan’s inclusion in this exclusive list, Hemulal Yadav from Tripura was the first recorded batsman to be dismissed as ‘Timed out’ in 1997.

His reason for the delay is quite relatable to Indians: he was engrossed in a chat just beyond the boundary.

When the ninth wicket fell, Yadav stood just beyond the boundary, and the umpires signaled for a drinks break. Yadav continued conversing with his team manager, their intriguing discussion a mystery to onlookers, as neither Yadav nor the manager showed any signs of breaking away. Curiously, when the Orissa players appealed – incidentally, Debasis Mohanty was in the game – the umpires declared Yadav timed out. One can only assume that the conversation persisted.

The entire scenario was quite remarkable, even more so than Harold Heygate’s presence in Sussex’s playing XI. On the morning of the 1919 game, Sussex found themselves short of a player, with only 10 on the roster. Spotting their former player Heygate, aged 34, they convinced him to step onto the field. Heygate, who had been afflicted with rheumatism due to his service in the trenches during the First World War, hadn’t participated in the game either as a bowler or a batter until that moment.

Wisden expressed its profound moral outrage regarding the incident.

“Regardless of whether Heygate would have been able to make it to the wicket or not, it was a highly unsportsmanlike act to raise such an issue when there was still ample time to conclude the match.”

The third instance of a timed-out dismissal was that of West Indian fast bowler Vasbert Drakes, who was participating in South African domestic cricket during the 2002-03 season. Drakes was representing Border against Free State, but his dismissal was rather unfortunate. He was not even in South Africa at the time due to an extensively delayed flight, and he hadn’t arrived in time for the planned game. He had been competing for the West Indies in the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and had hoped to make it to South Africa on schedule. Although he didn’t have a chance to bat that day, he managed to claim two wickets on the second day of the match.

We don’t provide daily reminders to players about the various ways they can be dismissed, such as lbw, caught, or bowled,” later remarked the on-field umpire, Daryl Harper. “It is the players’ responsibility to be aware of the game’s conditions.”

The next batsman scheduled to bat was VVS Laxman, but he was predictably taking a shower.

Laxman had a penchant for his baths. Ganguly made a valiant effort to swiftly change from his tracksuit into his cricket gear, but precious minutes continued to pass. Harper elucidated the situation to South Africa’s captain, Graeme Smith, who graciously permitted Ganguly to partner with Rahul Dravid. Ganguly went on to become the second-highest Indian run-scorer, amassing 46 runs from 89 balls, but India was eventually bowled out for a total of 169. South Africa ultimately emerged victorious in that match.

Veteran Sri Lankan batsman Angelo Mathews, entering the crease following Sadeera Samarawickrama’s dismissal in the 25th over, did indeed make it to the middle within the prescribed two-minute time frame. However, he appeared unprepared to take his stance as he continually adjusted his helmet, possibly due to a loose strap.

The Bangladesh players lodged an appeal, and under the Laws in the 1980 code, umpire Marais Erasmus adjudged Mathews out. Mathews attempted to present his case for some time, citing issues with his helmet, but his pleas went unanswered. The former Sri Lanka captain left the field in frustration without having faced a single delivery, venting his frustration by flinging his helmet at the advertising hoardings after crossing the boundary.

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